To define stress, we need to understand how it affects us in our day to day lives.
You hear it often . . . I’m feeling so stressed at work or this job is stressing me out. But what does it really mean? How does it affect our ability to function properly?
When we experience a stressor, that is something which triggers us to become stressed, our bodies react in a number of different ways. The reaction depends on the individual and what the stressor is, but the symptoms of stress generally fall into one of four categories.
These are behavioural symptoms, cognitive symptoms, emotional symptoms, or physical symptoms.
Behavioural symptoms affect your habits. You might eat more, or drink and smoke more. Or you might bite your nails. Cognitive symptoms affect your thoughts. You could lack concentration and become sidetracked easily. Or give into needless worrying and negative thoughts.
Emotional symptoms can affect your feelings. You can become short tempered or suffer from low mood and depression.
Physical symptoms include nausea and dizziness, and diarrhoea or constipation. The common one is loss of libido! But low immunity is the one we realise the most, when we start to pick up colds and minor illnesses.
If you suffer with stress you are likely to exhibit at least one of these symptoms. However, you’re likely to have a number of these.
When I get stressed I tend to worry needlessly. I let things get on top of me and several minor problems seem like one huge problem!
If I let it go on too long without dealing with the causes of stress I start to feel down and get snappy with those around me. And then I might start to eat more of those foods that make me feel better, like cake and chocolate!
So understanding the different types of symptoms associated with stress, we can now make an attempt at a definition.
So, to define stress . . .
Actually, this is a real tough one.
If you ask 100 people or look at 100 websites, you’ll probably get at least 99 different answers. But I’ll give it as good a go as the next . . .
Stress is the way your body reacts to a demand or pressure that is above its normal exposure. This could be a behavioural, cognitive, emotional, or physical reaction.
I’m afraid this is the best I can do! If you suffer with stress or know what your stressors are then you have to take charge! Otherwise your symptoms can become worse. Try some of these stress management games or find something else that keeps your stress levels in control.